Being a producer in the music industry is a singular position lots of people talk about but few really understand. So while lots of people assume as a producer they’ll be able to make a few phone calls, go into the studio when they feel like it and otherwise, sit back, enjoy the 30,000 foot view and cash those checks, that’s just not true at all. A good music producer works hard. They have lots of intuition, stellar people skills and a definite knowledge of what will work in the music marketplace. Most importantly, a good producer has to know when to play which role, when to be a collaborator, a cheerleader, a guide, or the boss.
What music producers want from artists in the studio is, first and foremost, focus. Studio time is expensive so they want the artist to show up in the right headspace and with their voice and skills intact, ready to work. From there, they want the artist to deliver with the abilities whether that’s singing, rapping, or playing an instrument that first appealed to the producer. While “good” or “bad” might be in the lexicon of the producer, the way they’re generally looking at things in terms of vibe, feel, sonic quality and lots of subjective stuff that can’t be exactly quantified but is nevertheless real and of value to a production. Along with that, they’re dealing with song structure, tempo, sound quality and the actual nuts and bolts of making a song. For the technical, engineering side of the work, some producers are at the console, manning the controls but most work with an engineer or a team of engineers and assistants to execute all the steps necessary to make that song sound as good, interesting, and on-point as possible.
Artists who take direction well and place their motivation on making music are the people producers want to work with. That said, a producer and artist must have an understanding on what the ultimate sound and feel of what they’re working on. Therefore, most producers will spend time with the artist prior to recording them to get a feel for the artist and their music. During this time, it behooves the artist to put their insecurities at rest and just surrender to the process of sharing and collaborating with the producer. If the artist does not understand the producer’s direction or disagrees, they need to tell the producer respectfully and privately if possible. The producer is running the ship during the production process and for this reason it’s important that the artist and producer remain a united front. Ultimately, the artist needs to trust the producer and know they’re motivation is to make the project as successful as possible.
Producers get the ball rolling and they keep it rolling, all the way from getting the artist to getting that music out into the world and promoting it through the proper channels. They’re also creating the relationships that are going to make every process work as seamlessly as possible. Producers are often the people showing up at the clubs and parties, shaking hands because relationships are a big part of what makes what they do work. Natural producers are constantly looking for talent and people power because they know the value of talent and committed individuals who all play key roles in getting the music made and getting it out into the world.